Best Over-the-Counter Eye Drops of 2024

Before purchasing any type of eye drops, it is important to consult your doctor and have them evaluate your problem. In some cases, over-the-counter eye drops are sufficient, but in other cases, prescription medicated eye drops may be necessary.

If OTC eye drops can solve your problem, you should know that there are eye drops that contain preservatives and those that do not. Preservative-free eye drops are generally safe for most people, including those who are pregnant, and can be used hourly or as directed. Eye drops containing preservatives can make things worse in some cases, so they should be used more carefully. The same applies to other drops, such as drops to reduce redness.

“Poor quality or redness-enhancing artificial tears contain chemicals that can cause problems such as recurrent redness, eye dilation, corneal toxicity, blurred vision, and worsening of dry eye disease. ,” Dr. Koetting warned.

Dr. Edmund Farris, associate clinical professor of ophthalmology at Mount Sinai University, added that these preservatives have the ability to change aspects of the eye. “The preservatives in most eye drops can change the corneal surface and cause loss of superficial corneal cells, which can ultimately lead to further symptoms,” he said. Therefore, using this kind of drops too often can cause problems.

Signs to watch for if you think you are having a negative reaction to eye drops include worsening redness, irritation, blurred vision, and a burning or gritty sensation. This is often caused by the preservatives in some drops. Koetting said if these symptoms don't improve, it could indicate an allergy or hypersensitivity to the IV medication. “However, if you notice increased itching, swelling around the eyes, or swelling and redness of the whites of the eyes, you should immediately stop using the eye drops and contact your eye care professional.” she added.

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